Putting the Glitz in the Ritz

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Hotels maintain an advantage over sites like Airbnb when it comes to design and should not be afriad to use it, says Werner Aisslinger.

  • Facts


    • Born in 1964, Werner Aisslinger is among the world’s leading designers of exclusive hotels, currently working on projects in Zurich, Hamburg, Taiwan and Cologne.
    • He is also a prominent product designer, famous for using innovative materials, including fiberglass, gels, aluminum foam, 3-D textiles and neoprenes.
    • House of Wonders, his year-long exhibition at Munich’s Pinakothek Museum, is an overview of his creative solutions to the challenges of contemporary living and working.
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hobo hotel Stockholm Studio Aisslinger
Creating living spaces inside hotels, like this one in Hobo Stockholm hotel to open in March. Source: Studio Aisslinger

The designer Werner Aisslinger is known for his deep love of innovation and high-tech materials. He thrives on new technologies, both as a product designer, making furniture from industrial foams, and as an interior architecture, crafting unique spaces like the fashionable Standard Hotel in New York, which towers over the High Line park.

But he says design will not be enough for the hotels of the future: they must become tellers of stories and sellers of experiences.

House of Wonders is an exhibition created by Mr. Aisslinger at the Neue Pinakothek gallery in Munich. It’s an apt name for his vision of the hotel of the future, which he says must become even “more magical and more astonishing than hotels of the past,” thanks to the emergence of Airbnb and other sharing-economy rivals.

One highlight of Mr. Aisslinger’s work as a hotel designer is his remarkable 25hours Hotel Bikini Berlin, located near the city’s zoo and close to the historic Kurfürstendamm shopping street. Accor, among the world’s largest hotel businesses and owner of chains such as Sofitel, Novotel, Mercure and Ibis, recently bought 30 percent of the hotel.

Mr. Aisslinger was not surprised: big chains are looking to the future of the hotel business, he says. Instead of selling a cheap, homogenous product they want to create real experiences and real connections to their host cities. In a hotel like the Bikini Berlin, the connection is built into the hotel’s fabric: the reception desk is crafted from original 1924 tiles from the city’s subway system.

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